Earthquakes, just how many are there?

Earthquakes since 1898, by magnitude

Occasionally, I might decide to bore you to death with something extra dull, like seismology. Oh, I can sense the collective groans and disinterested eye rolls already. Yeah, been there, done that, it’s dull. Or is it? Actually, not so much. Seismology used to be a subject I found mind-numbingly, excruciatingly boring, too. Then I found some info resources out there that made it so much more intriguing than I thought.

For a quick refresher on the basics of the plates, here’s a list of the primary, secondary and micro tectonic plates. Hopping around the links there should provide enough basic info to get the gist of it.

First on the list of resources is a default starting point–the USGS. This link is the earthquakes map. You can configure it however your little heart desires along the controls on the left, and save the settings via the drop down menu on the map under ‘Settings’. Personally, I like to see everything as much as possible. I’m kind of like an earthquake voyeur that way. To see as many earthquakes as possible of all magnitudes, I have my ‘Data Feed’ set for ‘7 days, all’, and have it set to auto-update once a minute. Unless you prefer to sit through a page reload, just check that auto-update box & let it do the work for you. Then I scroll down to the ‘Control Panel‘ section on the left, and adjust it further. I have the ‘Earthquakes to display’ maxed out to 1000, so I never miss anything. I believe the default setting is 300. I don’t keep mine set for anything older than the past 24 hours, so I have the earthquakes age section set for between 0.0 and 1.0, meaning it won’t show anything older than 24 hours. I have the magnitude set for -1.0 and 10.0, so I’m seeing all the little shakes, rattles, and rolls available via USGS. It’s actually proven quite interesting to see where the micro quakes clusters are. I have my depth setting set for 0 to 1000, and the intensity I believe is maxed as per the default.

Hopefully that was easy enough to follow, and you’ve got your map rigged up the way you want.

What now? If you don’t intend to sit & stare at the map auto-updating every minute waiting to see what pops up and where, then scroll the list under the map and find a location, magnitude or depth that interests you. Click to open that earthquake’s summary page. Note that you can also click on of the EQ mag dots on the map and have that earthquake’s info pop up just as easily. On the box that pops upon the map with the earthquake info, right-click for a new tab (or however your browser’s set to allow new tab clicks) Congrats, you’re on the summary page looking at the time, location and nearest cities. What you can do from here is click ‘Summary’, which is the starting point where you already are, ‘Did You Feel It?’ which shows you how widespread it was felt & where you can report if you felt movement related to that earthquake, ‘Historic Seismicity’, which gives you a current year, and 2 other time frame categories, for the earthquake activity in the area. The other option is ‘Downloads’, which I’ve never personally done.

You’ve probably noticed that while the USGS covers the US, Caribbean, Central & South America, and the Asia/Pacific area rather well, that it lacks in the Mediterranean, Europe, Africa and Middle East. There are many other sources out there for other parts of the world. One for the Mediterranean and Europe is the EMSC list. It shows most worldwide earthquakes above a magnitude 5.0, and is a very good source for Europe & the Mediterranean specifically. They do occasionally list African & Middle Eastern earthquakes, but it is spotty. If you want to see New Zealand area earthquakes, you need to swing by GeoNet. For Japan, if you really want to just how much they shake that isn’t listed on the USGS, take a gander at the JMA.

Japan is one of my favorite places to watch, and there is a better place than the JMA to watch the shaking, but I’ll get to that in another post.

One other thing that I use and love is a program call QVS, or ‘Quakes, Volcanoes and Solar matters’. This little program was put forth by this blogger and as far as I’m concerned, it’s awesome. It pulls data from many sources, and gives you a better view of the seismicity of the planet without having to visit multiple sites. I use the program as a notification-type alert system for earthquakes. I get a pop-up notifying me of earthquakes from around the world about every 5 minutes or so. The pop ups can also reflect magnitude revisions, not just fresh quakes. I have on several occasions had the maps & lists closed, and had QVS pop up with alerts for major events I wouldn’t have known about for quite some time afterward.

If you don’t mind walking among the tin foil on Above Top Secret, a well-know & respected conspiracy theory forum, there is one final spot online I’d like to share. A lot of what I’ve mentioned is already listed here, on ATS’ Quake Watch 2013 thread. The main posters in the thread are extremely knowledgeable about seismology. If you have a question, odds are they can answer it, and logically.

Happy seismic watching!

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One thought on “Earthquakes, just how many are there?

  1. Pingback: Earth Music: Seismic Listening | It's Probably Boring to You

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